Fiduciary Duties

Milwaukee Fiduciary Duties Lawyer

A fiduciary duty is a duty that the law imposes on a person who holds or acts in a position of trust and confidence. In general terms, a fiduciary owes a duty to act fairly and in the best interests of the person to whom the duty is owed.

Some types of business law disputes will often include a claim that a party has  breached  a fiduciary duty. These disputes can involve employers and employees as well as shareholders, partners or members in a small business.

Attorney Robert Corris has more than 25 years of experience in representing parties in disputes involving fiduciary duties. To learn more about how he can assist you, call the Corris Law Office today at (414) 272-8000, send us a fax (414) 755-7050 or an e-mail (rcorris@corrislaw.com), or use our convenient contact form. We represent business law clients throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Hartland, Waukesha and surrounding areas. We pledge prompt and personal attention to your case and look forward to working with you to work through your fiduciary duty legal problem.

Employees

In the employer-employee setting, an employer who sues a former employee who has gone into competition will often include a claim for breach of a fiduciary duty of loyalty.

It is well established that a corporate officer or director is under a fiduciary duty of loyalty, good faith and fair dealing in the conduct of corporate business. But an employee who does not hold a position as an officer or director may or may not be a fiduciary.

The factors to considered are:

  • The individual's managerial duties;
  • Whether the position occupied is one of authority; and
  • Whether the individual possesses superior knowledge and influence over another and is in a position of trust.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has said that if an employee is a “key employee,” then a fiduciary duty of loyalty will exist. Whether an employee is a “key employee,” however, depends on the precise nature of his or her employment duties.

Even though employees have a right to prepare to compete, a fiduciary may have a duty to disclose those plans earlier than a non-fiduciary would. Since disclosure of plans to leave and compete would likely result in termination before the employee is ready to leave, proper legal advice is essential.

Attorney Robert Corris has advised many employees about their duties in connection with their plans to compete and how to take steps to minimize any liability as a fiduciary.

Corporations, Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, Oppression of Minority Rights, and Derivative Actions

A falling out among shareholders, partners, or members in a small business can result in bitter litigation. Majority owners can and do take steps to “freeze out” minority owners, including but not limited to:

  • Terminating the minority owner’s employment.
  • Voting him or her out as an officer or director.
  • Reallocating profits to expenses to avoid the payment of dividends.

In Wisconsin, majority shareholders owe a fiduciary duty to the business entity and to minority shareholders. Likewise, officers and directors owe fiduciary duties to the entity and to the shareholders.

Attorney Robert Corris can help a minority owner who wishes to pursue a claim for breach of fiduciary duty carefully plead individual and derivative claims.

When the primary injury is to the corporation the claim is derivative and must be brought in compliance with the rules governing derivative actions. When the injury is primarily to an individual shareholder, i.e., it “affects a shareholder's rights in a manner distinct from the effect upon other shareholders,” the claim is individual.

Attorney Robert Corris can also help majority business owners who have good reason to terminate a minority shareholder’s employment and interest in a business, both by analyzing the reasons for termination in advance of any action or by defending against claims of breach of fiduciary duty.

In Wisconsin, breach of fiduciary duty claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations.

Contact the Corris Law Office Today

Attorney Robert Corris is an experienced business litigator as well as a speaker and author on a variety of business law topics, including Wisconsin breach of fiduciary duty disputes. He is ready to discuss solutions to your legal problems today.

The Corris Law Office serves business law clients, including individuals, dealing with breach of fiduciary disputes throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Hartland, Waukesha and surrounding areas. To learn more, call us at (414) 272-8000, send us a fax (414) 755-7050 or an e-mail (rcorris@corrislaw.com), or use our convenient contact form. We pledge prompt and personal attention to your fiduciary duty issues and look forward to working with you.